OPINION - Pharma Funding for Patient Advocacy: Unethical or a Necessity?

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Summary

Author: Dr. Nigel SB Rawson, Ph.D.

The media and others have questioned the ethics of relationships between patient support groups and pharmaceutical companies making expensive drugs for which Canadian patients want financial coverage through provincial drug plans. This commentary addresses some of the difficulties faced by groups supporting patients with rare disorders in trying to convince provincial governments to include new expensive drugs in public drug plans. In today’s healthcare environment in Canada, patient support groups are essential. Patient groups provide education, support and encouragement to their members. When required, they also perform advocacy activities to ensure better access to care and treatment that patients need but the healthcare system is not adequately providing. Without appropriate policies to provide fair access to new drugs for rare disorders and under circumstances where provinces use every reason not to fund expensive drugs, we should not be surprised that advocacy has become a major endeavour.